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GAME REVIEW

Sonic Advance

It Doesn’t Get More Old School Than This

By Chad Serrant

staff writer

Sonic Advance

Published by THQ

Made for the Game Boy Advance

$39.99

Sega has dropped out of the risky console hardware business and now makes games. Since they can now make games on any platform they want, Sega has taken the 16-bit goodness of the Sonic games of the Genesis and squeezed it into the Game Boy Advance. If you even remotely liked the 2-D Sonic games, this game is a perfect extension of those games.

The story sticks to the good old premise of evil mad scientist (Dr. Robotnik) trying to take over the world (by turning all of the animals into robots), and it’s up to you (as Sonic or his three friends) to stop him. There are thirteen stages to zip through if you’re going to stop Robotnik.

Each character has differences that force you to travel through a stage differently. Sonic is the fastest thing alive, so he has a lot of acrobatic skills and he has temporary invincibility during his jumps. Tails can fly, and is the only character that can swim up to the surface. Knuckles can glide through the air and can climb walls. Amy is the least orthodox of them all, but she has excellent range and cool attacks with her hammer.

All of the stages have the gimmicks from previous games: speed boosters, springs, loop-de-loops, everything but time travel (sorry Sonic CD). These gimmicks help demonstrate the scaling and rotating abilities of the Game Boy Advance while helping you beat your latest time record. Of course, the items are here: rings, shields, annoying enemies, spikes, annoying underwater scenes, Robotnik in some mechanical contraption, and the large capsules filled with enemies at the end of the stage.

The bonus stages are all new. Once you find the hidden spring, you catch a surfboard and fall through a tunnel while collecting rings. Unfortunately, the 3-D scaling destroys your depth perception and you have no way of telling where those rings are. You’ll pull your hair out before you can get your hands on that Chaos Emerald. But once you do, you reach the final boss (more final than the X-Zone boss) and the real fun begins.

The music is just like the Genesis version (but better), and the sound is filled with the classic bloops and beeps I’m used to. Everyone in the room will know when you’ve lost your rings, and everyone will sing to the invincibility song with perfect accuracy. Too bad the start up screen doesn’t yell “Say-gaaa!” I know Sonic 2 diehards will be disappointed by that. But the remixes of the boss music from Sonic and Sonic 2 should raise their spirits.

As an extra, you can raise Chao in the Tiny Chao Garden. The rings you collect are used to buy items for your critter. There are two minigames (memory and rock/paper/scissors) just in case you need a few extra rings to buy that rubber duckie. If you own Sonic Adventure 2 Battle and a Gamecube to Game Boy Advance link cable, you can transport your Chao between the two games, so you can raise ‘em on the go. If you’ve had it up to here with the whole Pokemon/Monster Rancher/Digimon craze then you can ignore this section and still be content.

Now that Sega is free from its shackles on hardware development, I can finally enjoy Sega without thinking about them as Nintendo’s competitor. Sonic Advance is one of the best 2-D platformers out there. I wonder who’s next on the “long-time Nintendo rival will work for them” list. Maybe SquareSoft?